It’s become clear throughout this trip that France hates disabled people. Nothing has been easy and very few of the French have helpful (on the boat – they were all largely other nationalities, and therefore, actually helpful). We’ve had an easier time getting around third world countries than France. They may not have the infrastructure in the Dominican or Jamaica, but what they do have are good people who don’t treat the disabled as humans unworthy of effort, and who jump in to help, without hesitation.
Unworthy of effort sums up France’s attitude toward the disabled in total. The Palace of Versailles was a perfect example. We were supposed to have a wheelchair for my daughter, but here’s the rub. We get there, and there are three football fields worth of cobblestones to cross first. And a massive garden on the other side, filled with gravel.
And you know what we’re told? You can only use the wheelchair in the Palace.
So… it takes us almost the entire time the rest of the group is in the Gardens just to reach the entrance and once we’re inside, we’re separated from her walker and then rolled through some beat-up staging area where they leave us to wait for our guide… at the top of a staircase.
Eventually, we get sorted and we, along with a crushing amount of other humanity, tour this ridiculous monument to ego and entitlement. At the end, the elevator is broken, so we’re run around to a different part of the building near the gardens, where we do manage to get down, but then… we’re trying to leave and they won’t let us take the wheelchair out. Keep in mind, we don’t have my daughter’s walker anymore. It’s in some security office at the other entrance. The guide offers to go get it and tells us to go with the wheelchair, after talking to some of the security guards. She disappears to find the walker and we start. We get about twenty feet before guards start rushing us, screaming at my daughter to get out of the wheelchair. I’m trying to explain, in English and in my broken French, that she can’t walk, and that’s when the security incident starts.
It doesn’t have anything to do with us, but it does involve security and men with machines guns screaming and shoving everyone out of the garden area, while the guard dealing with tries to pull my daughter out of the chair. She finally decides, at the last second, with a police car bearing down on us, to allow me to push her to the side. More men with machine guns are yelling at us to leave, but also to get out of the chair and we’re screaming back, she can’t walk, and anyway, long story short, another security guard finally shows up with our walker and after being threatened, pulled, screamed at and intimidated with guns, we’re “allowed” to return to our bus (across three football fields of cobblestones with a walker) again.
I mean, seriously, France. What the fuck kind of help is that for the disabled? Fuck you and your bullshit palace. I can see why the peasants came to burn it down.
Target: 1300 words
Written: 2297 words, novel: Father Lightning